How To Stay Motivated When You Work From Home

The thought of working in pajamas and the 30-second commute to your home office sounds great. And at first, it is. Through remote work, you’ve accessed a new world of newfound freedom and flexibility. Yet as quickly as the intrigue and excitement can pile on, it can easily erode away. Learning how to stay motivated when you work from home isn’t easy, and if you’re not careful, it can quickly snowball into burnout.

Before that happens, you need to find methods or techniques to gain seemingly elusive motivation. With even the slightest bit of motivation, you can stay on top of your work, maintain a better work life balance, and learn how to maintain a semblance of sanity. Sounds great, right? Here’s how to do it.

Why Are You Unmotivated?

The first step toward fostering motivation lies in understanding why you might feel unmotivated. The reasons for a lack of motivation are highly variable and personal based on each individual. To pinpoint why you started to feel unmotivated, you have to do a bit of soul-searching. This may sound cliched, but thinking deeply about your lack of motivation can help you focus on what you can do to change it.

Examples of Why You May Become Unmotivated

Again, a lack of motivation is different for each remote worker, but to get your brainstorming session started, here are some examples of why you may have become despondent toward your virtual role:

  • Too much work piled on
  • Lack of the ability to say no to clients or employers
  • Feeling out of touch with coworkers or managers
  • Lack of cohesion in the virtual office
  • Not knowing the goals of the company or its vision
  • Juggling social, family, and work-life
  • All work and no play
  • Pessimism
  • Setting unrealistic goals
  • Time management issues
  • Lack of confidence
  • Comparing yourself to others via social media

You may suffer from one of these or all of them, but once you’ve identified which ones are causing your physical and mental drain, you can start the journey to stay motivated when you work from home. The best way to do this is to number each catalyst in order of severity. Those causing the biggest lack of motivation should be at the top of your list.

After you compile the list, start by fixing one item at a time. Depending on your style, you can start with the easiest or the hardest. Once you have the first problem solved or have it under control, move onto the next. Systematically, you can work your way through every facet of your life that’s sapping your will to work or succeed. It won’t be easy, but nothing worth achieving is.

Traditional Ideas To Stay Motivated When You Work From Home

If you’re a bit of a traditionalist, finding ways to stay motivated when you work from home will have a similar air to motivational ideas for a traditional office job. But with a few tweaks, you can cater them to the virtual world. You just may find that these tried and true methods that have worked for decades might have the same effect on your level of motivation in the remote workplace.

Set a Schedule to Minimize Distraction

One of the major hurdles of staying motivated when you work from home is setting a schedule. However, this may seem counterintuitive. Without a commute and with your home office footsteps away, setting a schedule should be easy, right? Not necessarily.

The reason that setting a schedule is so difficult is that you’re inundated with distractions nonstop throughout the day. Whether you have to check up on your kids, “The Price Is Right” is on, or you can’t stop checking your social media profiles, distractions are all around you.

That’s what makes setting a schedule so important. If you can stick to a schedule, you don’t have time for distraction unless you fall off course with that schedule. What type of schedule you create is entirely up to you, but at the very least, it should have a start time, a lunch break, and a finish time. Even starting with these three things can keep your motivation going, even if you fall off track at the beginning.

If you want a bit more detail to your schedule, an example might look like this:

  • 7 a.m.: Get up, shower, get dressed
  • 7:30 a.m.: Eat breakfast, check the news, etc.
  • 8 a.m.: Get to work
  • Noon: Lunch break (and get some exercise)
  • 3 p.m.: Take a small break
  • 5 p.m.: Close up shop for the day
  • 6 p.m.: Eat dinner, work out, etc.
  • 10 p.m.: Get ready for bed
  • 11 p.m.: Hit the hay

You may also want to schedule small 5-minute breaks each hour of the day just to help your brain reset itself. While you might take a while to adjust to your schedule, don’t quit. Once you’re on the schedule, straying from it will feel awkward and uncomfortable. And that’s a good thing.

Create Concrete Goals

Telling yourself things like “doing your best” or “impressing the boss” may seem like they’re helping you to stay motivated as a remote worker, but actually, these goals are too vague. They don’t provide you with any sort of guidance, and instead of crushing your goals, you meander and struggle to find ways to meet them. This, in turn, leads to a lack of motivation and burnout because you’re not achieving anything.

Therefore, you need to set concrete goals. SMART goals are one of the most well-known methods that can translate to success. This acronym stands for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-based

For example, you could say “impressing the boss” is your goal, but that’s not exactly tangible. With a SMART goal, you can actually quantify and measure how you’ll do it. An example might be:

  • Beating my deadline on a project by three days while delivering the work under budget
  • Getting five more sales by the end of the month
  • Improving my presentation skills by learning PowerPoint more in-depth by the time of my next presentation

These are just a few ideas, and you can cater them to your needs. Just remember that the more specific you are, the more likely you are to stay motivated as a remote worker.

Ditch the To-Do List and Prioritize Instead

The to-do list is a polarizing mechanism. Some remote workers swear by it while others say it detracts from their work and makes them feel anxious if they don’t complete all their tasks. For the purposes of this article and to think outside the box, ditch the to-do list.

Creating a to-do list certainly outlines what you have to do for the day, but it lacks one major component: prioritization. Without prioritization, choosing the correct task to do first can seem difficult, and if you don’t get it done, there goes your motivation. So instead of crafting a massive to-do list, pick one or two of the most important things for the day and get those out of the way. If you have more time, keep working. At the very least, you’ll have hit your priority targets.

Crazy (or Innovative) Ideas to Stay Motivated When You Work From Home

If you’re part of the avant-garde crowd or traditional methods just don’t appeal to you, crazy, out-of-the-box ideas may be the better approach to staying motivated when you work from home. This doesn’t mean you have to be overly experimental or actually crazy. It’s more an idea of how to personalize motivational practices to appeal more to you. So break with tradition and try a few of these ideas on for size.

Mix It Up

Perhaps a traditional nine-to-five schedule was the reason you wanted to abandon the brick-and-mortar office job in the first place. In this case, going back to that schedule may sound completely unappealing.

As such, you should mix it up in terms of your scheduling, especially if you don’t have to be on-call or present during certain hours of the day. While this doesn’t mean you should work from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m., you should find something that maximizes your work life balance, giving you time to work and play equally.

Moreover, this schedule should allow you the freedom to do what you want to some degree. For someone who enjoys their personal freedom, saying no to impromptu activities, concerts, or sporting events can seem suffocating. So create a schedule that has some degree of variance to do what you love to do most.

Take a Cold Shower

Everyone loves a nice, hot shower, but have you ever thought about hopping into icy cold waters? If you’ve never done it before, it’s quite a rush. Rather than being a soothing, “I don’t want to get out” experience, it’s more of a kickstart. Your heart will skip a beat, your senses will kick in, and you might feel vigor unlike anything you’ve felt before. If you can do it for two minutes, you might be surprised how motivated and energetic you feel. Extend your stay as necessary.

Take Advantage of Spite

It may sound strange, but spite is the ultimate motivator, taboo or not. Remember when someone said you couldn’t do something? Or an ex told you that you had no direction in life? Or someone doubted any part of your ability to stay motivated as a remote worker? Those feelings that bubbled up as a result aren’t just there for show.

Use that spite to kick your butt into gear. It’s a powerful motivator to show others that they shouldn’t have doubted your abilities. And when you finally reach your SMART goals that you’ve laid out in spite of naysayers, you’ll have a bit of extra confidence to go with your achievements.

Create Your Own Caffeinated Bliss

Remote workers love their coffee, but don’t be content with just a black cup of joe. Instead, concoct your own caffeinated beverage that makes you excited to get up in the morning or refuel in the afternoon. Cappuccino and latte machines have become affordable, so that’s an option. But don’t forget about different types of milk, flavorings, and spices to make a drink that speaks to your own sense of flavor. Even if you’re going to have a long day, this drink just might make it all worthwhile. Oh, and don’t forget to give it a catchy name like the “Caffeinator” or the “Crack Attack.” Have fun with it.

Do What Works for You and Don’t Stop Trying

Without a doubt, you will falter at some point in your journey to stay motivated when you work from home. It’s human nature. Don’t let that failure get out of control. Instead, regroup and try again. The more resilient you are and the more perseverance you have will push you to overcome. If something isn’t working, change it. Ultimately, you have the reins. All you need to do is guide the horse.

How do you stay motivated when you work from home? Do you have any tips for those remote workers that struggle with burnout or a lack of motivation? Connect with Virtual Vocations on FacebookTwitterLinkedInInstagram, and YouTube to share your thoughts and tips. We’d love to hear from you!



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